Susan Crawford is an eminent telcoms scholar, former government official (who resigned because of corruption in telcoms policy) and the author, recently, of an important book on telcoms corruption and net neutrality called Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age. This book has scared the pants off of big telcos.
Their anti-Net-Neutrality front groups like NetCompetition, Broadband For America, and Media Freedom have been smearing Crawford and her book since it was published, and now, at least 31 people have posted highly similar one-star reviews of her book to Amazon, quoting talking points from these organizations. Most of these reviewers are not in Amazon's "real name" program, and the ones that are work for big telcos and the think-tanks they fund. Mike Masnick investigated the reviews in detail and it's pretty clear that nearly all the five-star reviews are from legit, named, disinterested parties (albeit with a few people who have a dog in the fight, like activists and scholars, and a couple more who say they are trying to balance out the one-star smears); meanwhile, nearly all the one-star reviews are from shills or telco people.
America has some of the worst Internet infrastructure in the developed world, and it's getting worse year by year. It's thanks to the crooked phone companies and their corrupt pals in Congress, the state houses, and the regulators. These titans have the country by its nervous system, and they're so afraid of criticism that they engage in petty, corrupt astroturfing to attack books that call them out. Read the rest
Team Telecom is a group of lawyers from the FBI, DoJ, DHS, and DoD who were empowered to enter any US network operations center of companies like Global Crossing on 30 minutes' notice, allowing them to secretly audit and intervene in the maintenance of the Internet's biggest backbones. The employees who dealt with the team were required to be US citizens, sworn to secrecy, and unable to discuss what they did, sometimes even with their own employers.
Read the rest
The security agreement for Global Crossing, whose fiber-optic network connected 27 nations and four continents, required the company to have a “Network Operations Center” on U.S. soil that could be visited by government officials with 30 minutes of warning. Surveillance requests, meanwhile, had to be handled by U.S. citizens screened by the government and sworn to secrecy — in many cases prohibiting information from being shared even with the company’s executives and directors.
“Our telecommunications companies have no real independence in standing up to the requests of government or in revealing data,” said Susan Crawford, a Yeshiva University law professor and former Obama White House official. “This is yet another example where that’s the case.”
The full extent of the National Security Agency’s access to fiber-optic cables remains classified. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement saying that legally authorized data collection “has been one of our most important tools for the protection of the nation’s — and our allies’ — security. Our use of these authorities has been properly classified to maximize the potential for effective collection against foreign terrorists and other adversaries...”
Josh Stearns writes,
Denver is about to become the epicenter of awesome, when the National Conference for Media Reform comes to town bringing 2,500 coders, journalists, media makers, artists and comedians together to hack the future of tech, media and democracy.
• What other event brings together 3D printers and wearable computers with policy debates about CISPA and slam poetry?
• Where else can you see Kimya Dawson of the Moldy Peaches and Evangeline Lilly from Lost hanging out with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and Former White House Tech Advisor Susan Crawford?
• Why in the world would the heads of Upworthy, NARAL, Common Cause and ColorofChange.org be going to Denver?
• What if you could see Brian Stelter of the New York Times talking with Jezebel.com founder Anna Holmes about digital media?
• What if you learned how to code from Catherine Bracy of Code for America and Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code?
The fight for civil liberties, for Internet Freedom, for digital rights is coming to Denver, April 5-7 -- are you?
More links: Latino Tech and Media Activism at the conference, and the Arts, Comedy and Music events taking place there. Read the rest
Andrew Rasiej sez, "If you're disappointed in the speed, quality, and cost of broadband service in the US you should learn about Susan Crawford who is the greatest US expert on the state of broadband and how the Federal Communications Commission has failed to properly regulate and spur competition or innovation in the marketplace. She has just published an OpEd in the New York Times which could easily be titled 'If I were Chairwoman of the FCC' and she published a book called Captive Audience which details the way various incumbent broadband related companies have gamed the political process and behaved unfairly in protecting their turf. Those who would like to see her actually named should sign this White House petition and send the same to their friends and colleagues. She is like the Elizabeth Warren of telecom and would fundamentally change the status quo."
Read the rest
To get there, the federal government needs to pursue three goals. First, it must remove barriers to investment in local fiber networks. Republican and Democratic mayors around the country are rightly jealous of the new, Google-built fiber network in Kansas City, Mo., which is luring start-ups from across the country. And yet in nearly 20 states, laws sponsored by incumbent network operators have raised barriers for cities wanting to foster competitive networks.
In response, Congress must act to restore local communities’ right to self-determination by pre-empting these unfair and anticompetitive state laws. We must also create infrastructure banks that provide long-term, low-interest financing to support the initial costs of building these networks.
Susan Crawford in Bloomberg on why the FCC should find BART in the wrong: "As far as anyone knows, no government agency in the U.S. had cut off general-purpose communications before BART took this step. The question before the FCC is whether BART’s action violated the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which prohibits discontinuing or impairing service without due process." (via @jswatz) Read the rest
After Sarkozy's "EG8" conference last week -- an event that brought together government leaders and Internet execs to legitimize an effort to censor and surveil the net -- a group of civil society people and activists threw an impromptu press-conference to explain what Sarko and company missed by treating the net as simply an engine for big business.
And so, yesterday, in Paris, civil society threw together an impromptu press conference, featuring Harvard's Larry Lessig, La Quadrature du Net's Jérémie Zimmermann, CUNY's Jeff Jarvis, former ICANN board member/former White House advisor Susan Crawford, Reporters Without Borders' Jean-François Julliard, and Harvard's Yochai Benkler. The spirt of the event was captured by Lessig. Business is important, the professor argued. But there are more than the interests of just business at stake when it comes to the future of the global network.
At E-G8, Civil Society Groups Restake Their Claim on the 'Net Read the rest
Kevin sez, "The Students for Free Culture Conference 2011 is a gathering of student activists, intellectuals, artists, hackers, and generally interested people to discuss the latest issues in the free cultural world, with a focus on student involvement and participation.
The conference will take place in New York City from February 19-20. It will feature keynotes from the creators of Diaspora, Brazilian professor and activist Pablo Ortellado, and professor and former Obama Administration advisor Susan Crawford, as well as panels on remix culture, open education, and fashion and copyright. The second day is an unconference where anyone is invited to pose a panel, discussion, gathering, or hack session. Registration is pay-what-you-want, and travel funding is available by request. See the complete conference schedule for more detail."
Students for Free Culture 2011 Conference: Saturday in NYC
Google Book Search and privacy for students - Boing Boing
Free Culture New York documentary - Boing Boing Read the rest
The Open Video Conference in New York City is a two-day powwow for open web geeks, independent filmmakers, and everyone else.
This year's OVC takes place October 1-2 2010. With 60+ sessions on open source, HTML5, and participatory culture, the conference is bigger and better than before. Keynote speakers include Susan Crawford, a former Obama advisor and advocate for net neutrality; Damian Kulash, the outspoken lead of the rock band OK Go; and the Yes Men, the culture jamming activists who impersonate business executives.
OVC is about open video technology, but also grapples with larger questions. With so much free stuff out there, how are artists going to get paid? Who knows what you watch? Smart people from EFF, Creative Commons, the Harvard Berkman Center, Burning Man, Google, and Mozilla weigh in.
Boing Boing readers get a discount--register with promo code BOING20 and get your badge for only $60 bucks!
Open Video Conference 2010
(Disclosure: I am proud to serve as a volunteer director of the nonprofit Participatory Culture Foundation, which puts on the Open Video Conference) Read the rest
David sez, "Mitch Kapor's [ed: Founder of Lotus, co-founder of EFF] become the chair of One Web Day, plus the organization got a major grant from the Ford Foundation. The group, which sponsors an annual 'Earth Day' for the Web every September 22, was founded by Susan Crawford, who now advises the Obama White House on tech policy."
As Board Chair, I will provide strategic direction and lead the Board in developing a plan for long-term growth. Nathan will manage day-to-day business of OneWebDay, build and support our network of volunteers, and develop our program plans for OneWebDay 2009. We would like the thank the Media and Democracy Coalition for Nathan's support leading up to the grant award, and we hope to build on our relationship.
Every year, OneWebDay focuses on a new theme. This year's theme is the promise of digital inclusion, and we will call attention to efforts that work to ensure that anyone who wants it has access to the Internet and the skills they need to engage in our new communications environment.
New Leadership for OneWebDay
(Thanks, David!) Read the rest
Earlier on Boing Boing, Cory blogged that President-elect Barack Obama has appointed Net Neutrality advocates and "virtual worlds nuts" Kevin Werbach and Susan Crawford to co-chair his FCC transition team. Okay, so we might know the guy as Kevin Werbach out here in meatspace, but to his Terror Nova Guild buddies, he's better known as Supernovan Jenkins (the first name presumably a reference to Werbach's Supernova tech conference series), and he's a Level 70 Tauren Shaman. Livejournaler Waltermonkey opines on the deeper meaning of Werbach's WoW identity:
What does this tell us about him, as a person, as a gamer, as a government official? I will attempt to translate all the dorkese.
1. - CULTURAL RELATIVISM
Every player in WoW belongs to one of two warring factions, Alliance or Horde. Werbach is Horde. Children often choose to be Alliance because they perceive them as "the good guys", but students of history (both ours and Azeroth's) recognize that Alliance culture is based on medieval European culture and Horde culture is based on the indigenous cultures that were supplanted by the West.
Werbach is a Tauren (a minotaur), which basically makes him a Native Kalimdorian. The Tauren revere nature, living in wigwams near giant totem poles. As a Shaman (see below), he could also have chosen a troll (blue-skinned Jamaican-like monster) or an orc (green-skinned Klingon-like monster), so there must be something about the cow-man that appeals to his liberal guilt.
Read the whole thing: victory or death! yes we can! Read the rest
Wagner James Au sez, "Not only are [Obama's FCC Transition Team leaders] Kevin Werbach and Susan Crawford great Net Neutrality advocates, they're also into online games/virtual worlds-- Werbach belongs to not one but *two* WoW guilds, and Crawford calls herself a "big fan" of Second Life. Agreeing with his guildmaster Joi Ito, Werbach's also a big supporter of WoW as a model for the future of work and software development."
“What [Warcraft] does,” he continued in that post, “is provide an incentive for people to develop new software and ideas for collaborative production. Many of those ideas will translate to other group activities, including those within the business world. I think MMOGs will be, at a minimum, a significant testbed for these new technologies, because users see a direct benefit and are willing to experiment with new things.”
Unsurprisingly, this perspective extends to virtual worlds like Second Life, which has been an important component in Werbach’s Supernova technology conference. On her own blog, Professor Crawford, a board member at ICANN, also counts herself “a huge fan of Second Life” for the way it lets users retain IP rights to their content (though she confesses to difficulty when it comes to moving her SL avatar around.)
Obama’s FCC Transition Team Co-chair a WoW Player
See also: Net Neutrality fighters to head Obama's FCC transition team Read the rest
Obama's FCC transition team is to be headed up by two of the smartest, hardest-fighting Net Neutrality advocates I know: Susan Crawford and Kevin Werbach. This bodes very very well indeed for American telcoms policy!
Ms. Crawford is a former partner of a Washington law firm that specializes in communications law and recently left the board of directors of ICANN, a group that oversees Internet domain-name registration. Mr. Werbach edited Release 1.0, a technology newsletter, and founded Supernova Group, a technology analysis and consulting firm.
The Obama transition team includes a number of former FCC officials, but under the conflict-of-interest rules adopted by the president-elect’s team, many may be barred from directly examining FCC issues.
President-elect Obama’s office said today that Ms. Crawford and Mr. Werbach are part of the Science, Tech, Space and Arts Team that will be directed by Tom Wheeler, a former president of National Cable and Telecommunications.
Obama Assembles FCC Transition Team
(via Joi) Read the rest
The US Treasury Department confiscated the domain names of a British/Spanish travel agent who specializes in Hemingway tours of Cuba. Treasury claims that since Americans might have made reservations through the sites, that they were entitled to march into the domain registrar and take away a foreigner's business.
Susan Crawford, a visiting law professor at Yale and a leading authority on Internet law, said the fact that many large domain name registrars are based in the United States gives the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, control “over a great deal of speech – none of which may be actually hosted in the U.S., about the U.S. or conflicting with any U.S. rights.”
“OFAC apparently has the power to order that this speech disappear,” Professor Crawford said.
The law under which the Treasury Department is acting has an exemption, known as the Berman Amendment, which seeks to protect “information or informational materials.” Mr. Marshall’s Web sites, though ultimately commercial, would seem to qualify, and it is not clear why they appear on the list. Unlike Americans, who face significant restrictions on travel to Cuba, Europeans are free to go there, and many do. Charles S. Sims, a lawyer with Proskauer Rose in New York, said the Treasury Department might have gone too far in Mr. Marshall’s case.
(Thanks, Bill!) Read the rest
This Saturday is the second annual "One Web Day." Susan Crawford writes,
Read the rest
The idea behind OneWebDay (happening for the second time this year) is to encourage people to think of themselves as responsible for the internet, and to take good and visible actions on Sept. 22 that (1) celebrate the positive impact of the internet on the world and (2) shed light on the problems of access and information flow.
Local OWD celebrations include a "Day of fair access to the Internet" in Colombia, where public kiosks and workshops on basic internet access will be delivered to people of all ages and economic status to introduce them to the internet.
In Africa, ISOC Benin will offer free public access to the internet and participate in an open debate about developing access to the Internet on a national television show. In Ethiopia, cybercafes in Addis Ababa will make available connected computers to the public at a discounted rate on 22 and 23 September 2007. Volunteers will help people who are new to the internet in creating their accounts and show them how to use the web. And lots more.
In NYC, there will be an OWD event in Washington Square Park from 3pm to 4pm on 9/22. Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Andrew Baron (Rocketboom), Dana Spiegel (NYCWireless) and others will be speaking.
Tim Berners-Lee made a video in honor of OWD.
We know about other OWD events in Poland, Bulgaria, Belgium, Ecuador, Israel, Italy, Taiwan, the UAE, and some Pacific Islands, as well as other places in the US.
David sez, "Susan Crawford urges the US to stop pussyfooting around and do what needs to be done: Restructure the Internet carriers so they allow competition, and separate the carriers of bits from the suppliers of content and services. This is how you get Net Neutrality that works."
Many Americans don’t have a choice of highspeed providers, and, as Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Free Press, Media Access Project, and U.S. Public Interest Group recently told the FCC, “Americans pay 10 to 20 times as much [as people do in other countries] for far less service.” The duopoly is something like Shamu and Godzilla on hire for televised wrestling – giant beasts gently swatting at one another for the cameras. They aren’t competing, these giants. There is a clear failure in the market for highspeed internet access in this country...
Many other countries have taken a hard look at their communications policy and have understood that communications and economic growth are tightly intertwined. Economic growth is driven by new ideas creating ever-newer goods and services and new ways of making a living. We have never had an interactive communications platform like the internet before – it’s capable of producing enormously diverse ideas (in the form of new niches, new roles, and new understandings of information) and allowing them to be disseminated on a large scale. Universal highspeed access to the internet could trigger crucial economic growth that would benefit U.S. society as a whole.
(Thanks, David!) Read the rest